The Role of Expert Teams in MCRR: A Human-Centric Approach 

Managed Cyber Risk Reduction (MCRR) combines cyber risk monitoring technology with human-led risk and security operations to deliver continuous security posture improvement and the strongest possible protection against threats.

According to the 2023 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), “74% of all breaches include the human element, with people being involved either via Error, Privilege Misuse, Use of stolen credentials or Social Engineering.”1 To err is human, after all. The good news is that humans aren’t just part of the problem; they’re part of the solution, too. Even as cybersecurity technologies progress, human expertise is still a critical component of a holistic security approach. 

Traditional automated defenses can fall short against increasingly complex cyber threats because they lack the nuanced understanding that human experts provide. Managed Cyber Risk Reduction (MCRR) represents a strategic evolution from Managed Detection and Response (MDR), emphasizing a proactive approach to managing cyber risks more effectively. An essential component of this approach is the human element—expert teams that enhance the effectiveness of cybersecurity measures. 

Recommended Reading | Critical Start Managed Cyber Risk Reduction – The Next Evolution of MDR 

The Human Component of MCRR 

MCRR isn’t just about deploying the latest technologies. It involves integrating these technologies with human intelligence to provide a unified approach to managing cyber threats, risks, and vulnerabilities. The expert teams include security analysts, risk managers, compliance officers, and other cybersecurity professionals who work 24/7/365 to monitor, detect, and respond to potential security breaches. 

Organizations across many (or even most) sectors face a growing threat from sophisticated cyber-attacks. From global financial institutions battling ransomware to healthcare organizations confronting targeted phishing attempts, the need for experts to manage and mitigate these risks is more critical than ever. The following real-world examples demonstrate the vital role human expertise plays in effectively responding to and addressing cyber risk, underlining the importance of a human-centric approach to cybersecurity. 

  • A fast-growing e-commerce company partners with Critical Start to know just how well their security strategy stacks up against mounting threats. The expert team conducts a comprehensive risk assessment, identifying vulnerabilities in the company’s web applications and cloud infrastructure, along with other security gaps. They prioritize remediation efforts based on the potential business impact and work closely with the company’s developers to implement secure coding practices and deploy robust security controls. The team also provides 24/7/365 monitoring and response services, quickly detecting and containing an attempted data breach. Their unique understanding of the e-commerce threat landscape and ability to adapt to the company’s agile development processes help the organization scale securely and protect sensitive customer data. 
  • A regional healthcare provider partners with Critical Start to improve its compliance with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) regulations and protect patient data. The MCRR team assesses the provider’s current security controls against CIS Critical Security Controls v8, identifying exposed defenses and providing prioritized recommendations for improvement using benchmarking against peers. They work with the provider’s IT and compliance teams to develop policies and procedures that align with HIPAA requirements, while also considering the unique operational needs of the healthcare industry. The team implements continuous monitoring and vulnerability management processes to proactively identify and address potential threats. When a ransomware attack targets the provider, the MCRR team quickly contains the incident, minimizing the impact on patient care and preventing the exposure of sensitive health information. 

MCRR and the NIST Cybersecurity Framework 

MCRR supports all six functions of the NIST CSF, with human cyber experts playing a vital role in enabling organizations to effectively perform each function. 

• Establish robust governance structures.
• Develop policies.
• Allocate resources.
• Ensure compliance.
• Guide business priorities.
• Prioritize assets.
• Conduct assessments.
• Understand risks.
• Develop strategies.
• Implement measures.
• Monitor controls.
• Assess performance.
• Identify gaps.
• Recommend improvements.
• Strengthen posture.
• Analyze events.
• Identify behavior.
• Use analytics.
• Leverage intelligence.
• Detect accurately.
• Follow protocols.
• Contain threats.
• Minimize impact.
• Investigate.
• Plan remediation.
• Restore systems.
• Recover data.
• Prevent incidents.
• Minimize downtime.
• Mitigate damage.

By enabling organizations to perform these six functions effectively, specialists help organizations proactively manage their cyber risks and maintain a strong security posture in the face of evolving threats. 

Key Components of MCRR 

MCRR combines four essential components to provide organizations with a comprehensive, risk-based approach to cybersecurity: risk assessment, a unified platform, expert teams, and a proven service model.  

The risk assessment component aligns to multiple cybersecurity risk management and compliance frameworks that evaluate and benchmark against peers, giving organizations an objective view of their cybersecurity posture. Critical Start’s Professional Services team is available to help customers take the assessment and, if needed, develop a plan for implementing the resulting recommendations. By comparing an organization’s cybersecurity posture to that of its peers, experts can provide valuable insights into areas of strength and weakness, helping organizations prioritize cybersecurity investments and efforts. 

The unified platform enables continuous cyber risk monitoring, posture and event analytics, response orchestration, and threat intelligence. Expert security and risk professionals in the Risk and Security Operations Center (RSOC) bring deep knowledge and experience to address cyber risks and implement effective mitigation strategies.  

Finally, the proven service model encompasses MDR, incident readiness, vulnerability management, and more, ensuring a holistic approach to cybersecurity. 

Why Human-Led Teams are Crucial in Cybersecurity 

Despite the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), human intuition and experience are essential in cybersecurity. People excel in interpreting complex contexts and nuances that purely automated systems often miss, quickly adapt in crisis situations to mitigate potential damages, and can tailor cybersecurity strategies to fit organizational cultures and risk appetites—all of which are vital for enhancing security effectiveness. 

Human expertise plays an outsized role in overcoming challenges related to risk management and vulnerability management. Risk-based decision making often requires human insight to accurately assess the potential impact of threats and prioritize remediation efforts. Human-led teams excel at conducting thorough risk assessments, considering factors such as business context, regulatory requirements, and organizational risk appetite. They can also effectively communicate risk to stakeholders and guide the implementation of appropriate risk mitigation strategies. 

When it comes to vulnerability management, human expertise is crucial for triaging and prioritizing vulnerabilities based on potential impact and exploitability. Yes, automated systems can identify vulnerabilities, but human experts are needed to validate findings, assess the real-world risk they pose, and develop targeted remediation plans. They can also proactively hunt for vulnerabilities in complex systems and applications that automated tools might miss. 

Additionally, human-led teams are adept at optimizing operational efficiency and team dynamics within organizations. They can significantly cut costs and boost response efficiency by strategically allocating resources and leveraging their specialized skills to tackle complex threats. Additionally, their ability to maintain high morale and manage burnout effectively helps preserve the core of cybersecurity defenses—its people—ensuring sustained resilience and a robust security posture.  

Conclusion and Key Takeaways 

MCRR represents the next evolution in cybersecurity, combining advanced cyber risk monitoring technology with the invaluable expertise of human-led teams. By leveraging the power of MCRR, organizations can gain a clear, objective understanding of their cybersecurity posture, prioritize investments based on potential impact, and implement targeted strategies to mitigate risks. The combination of continuous risk monitoring, posture and event analytics, response orchestration, and threat intelligence, coupled with the knowledge and experience of expert teams, enables organizations to achieve measurable risk reduction and maintain a strong security posture. Embracing MCRR isn’t just a strategic choice—it’s a necessity for organizations that want to stay ahead of the curve and protect their critical assets in a complex digital world. 

Is your organization ready to enhance cybersecurity operations with the advanced technologies and human expertise only MCRR can deliver? Let’s talk

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